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ನೂರೆಂಟು ಸುಳ್ಳು (nUreMTu suLLu)

You may not be a "Dhrutharashtra", but we want to be the Sanjaya for you!

Friday, August 26, 2005

Bhisham, Vasisht ... What's in a name?!

Mr.Bhat writes here about an unnamed eminent writer who feels many of his earlier writings are "bogus". Is there really an eminent writer who feels that way? We at Noorentu Sullu have no knowledge. Or could that be Mr.Bhat's own (guilty ?) conscience? Again, we do not know. Unlike some of our celebrity journalists, we at Noorentu Sullu head quarters have not mastered the art of mind reading.

But, we can tell you one thing. When Mr.Bhat names names, go and check.

Mr.Bhat writes about a mathematician from Bihar by name "Bhishma Narayana Singh". He writes as though Singh is dead. ("gaNitajnanidda" instead of "gaNitajnaniddAne"). (Note: Later in the article, Mr.Bhat writes that Singh's whereabouts are not known thus making clear that he could still be alive.)

In fact his name is really Vashisth Narayan Singh and he is still alive. While writing about Dr.Singh, Mr.Bhat writes that he was a mathematician of the stature of Srinivasa Ramanujam. Further, he writes that Dr.Singh's research and discoveries turned the existing [mathematical] laws upside down. To make Dr.Singh a bit more impressive, Mr.Bhat also writes about nameless American scientists who had great respect for him. (Knee-jerk anti-American that he is, yet when it fits the narrative he does not fail to mention citing Americans when necessary. For a guy who deplores the Americanization of Indian culture, I am not sure why he still wants to cite the appreciation of American scientists as some kind of a badge of honor.)

We at Noorentu Sullu HQ know a bit about mathematics. Very little. We have no doubt Dr.Singh was once a top notch mathematician. But comparing him to Ramanujam is more than a bit of stretch. Ramanujam is recognized world over as one of the greatest mathematicians of all time. It is only Indian newspapers that compare Dr.Singh with Ramanujam. Even they do it when they are writing about him (Dr.Singh) and want to sensationalize the story.

(BTW, here is an obituary for Ramanujam originally published by London Mathematical Society. We found it a very interesting read. And here is a quote (via Wikipedia) about Ramanujam by Prof.Robert Kanigel of MIT.
Almost a century after his death, it was said of him, "Ramanujan was a mathematician so great that his name transcends jealousies, the one superlatively great mathematician whom India has produced in the last thousand years. His leaps of intuition confound mathematicians even today, seven decades after his death. His papers are still plumbed for their secrets. His theorems are being applied in areas scarcely imaginable during his lifetime." (quoted from Kanigel's biography, "The Man who knew Infinity", p.3)

Mr.Bhat further writes that Dr.Singh burnt 6000 pages of his research (the fruit of 12 years of toil) and wrote a letter saying that he had found nothing new hence his work was useless. As his wont Mr.Bhat does not cite any references for his claims. However, as per this report Dr.Singh seems to still retain his mathematics books and diaries filled with mathematical formulae as his prized possession.

In the same article Mr.Bhat writes about eminent journalist Sir Harold Evans. Again he does take much care in usage of tense ("badukiddAgalE daMtakatheyAda" instead of "badukiruvAgalE daMtakatheyAgiruva") thus leaving the impression that Sir Harold is dead.

He writes about Sir Harold literally trashing 2 decades of his writings in The Times as well as his autobiography that he had finished. As per Mr.Bhat they were found years later by some one and got published.

Again, Mr.Bhat does not cite where he got this information from. Prolific writer that he is, Sir Harold has many books to his credit. But, there is no sign of any autobiography yet. Unless Mr.Bhat or someone else found something and published it without anybody's knowledge.

We at Noorentu Sullu H.Q. find it inconceivable (but not completely impossible) that a man who eventually headed the Random House publishing company would throw away his work to be published years later by someone else. Further for a man who hated his own writing so much as to trash them is it not strange that Mr.Evans continues to write till today with his latest book "We the People" slated to be released soon?


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